Posts Tagged ‘Joe Evans’

This musical adaptation of F Scott Fitzgerald’s novel was first produced at The Kings Head Theatre four years ago. This revised version is by the same team of Linnie Reegan (book & direction) and Joe Evans (music & lyrics). Though I’m not that familiar with the novel, it seemed faithful, though ‘narrated’ by Gatsby’s business partner Wolfsheim rather than told from the perspective of Gatsby’s neighbour and fellow war veteran Nick Carraway as (I think) it usually is.

Jay Gatsby is a 1st world war veteran who spent, and capitalises on, a brief post-war period in Oxford. Daisy, the love of his life, marries for money. He makes his fortune in somewhat dodgy deals with partner Wolfshiem and five years on he’s determined to wrench Daisy from her husband Tom Buchanan, who himself is having an affair with garage owner George Wilson’s wife Myrtle. The backdrop, of course, is decadence, jazz and booze in Long Island and New York City 20’s society.

Though it seemed faithful to the book, it somehow lacked interest as a story. The mediocre score doesn’t really add much and I thought an opportunity was missed to make it more contemporary with the action and setting. The traverse staging (though most of the audience is on one side) was OK from where I was sitting, but there seemed to be lots of poorer spots at the extremes on the same, long side. Having the clubbers enter through, and linger in, the foyer and bar fell flat, as did the attempts at direct contact with the audience.

I felt some of the singing was a bit ropey, and some of the acting too – it all seemed a bit forced. Having actors play instruments, as they do here, facilitates a much broader instrumentation, but I’m afraid its at the expense of the quality of musicianship. It seemed under-rehearsed to me, though it was the 6th or 7th performance. The show itself, despite being a revised version, still seemed like work-in-progress. The whole thing lacked energy and pace.

There’s apparently someone from TOWIE and I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here called Ferne McCann in the cast (actually, she’s not bad), so that might sell it, but for a Union regular like me, I’m afraid it’s a bit of a dud. 

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